The Vampire Diaries Review: Oh, Brother

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The Vampire Diaries does many things very well: snark, romance, violence, twists, turns, bubble baths.

But what the show has truly succeeded at over two-plus seasons has been a constant, fascinating through-line; a theme for each set of episodes that anchors the action and gives fans something to anticipate; a destination, if you will, a payoff to the incredible build-up.

Almost all of season one could be defined by the tomb and Damon's yearning to awaken Katherine; season two introduced us to werewolves and then concluded with many weeks of wondering how everyone would protect Elena from Klaus' sacrifice.

Season three, however, has been a bit more scattered - and never was that more evident than on "The Ties That Bind."

Stefan with a Stare

I wanna say the mystery of the locked coffin is now the driving force and it probably is. I can't even begin to guess what's in there, nor do I even want to. I enjoy being surprised. (Editor's note: I'm mostly lying. Help! Send in your theories, stat!). But this episode gave equal weight to three stories and, while they're all connected in a general sense, my head was spinning a bit as we whipped from one scene to the next.

Then again, should I really complain? When it comes to The Vampire Diaries, a spinning head is far better than a decapitated one, as we've seen multiple times over the last few weeks.

FIRST, let's talk about Tyler's desire to break his sire bond by going all Braveheart on Klaus and the transformation process. FREEEEEEDOM! With the help of Bill Forbes, Tyler did all he could to achieve this goal, pulling and screaming and kicking and growling (shirtless, ladies!) and eventually sending his new mentor to the hospital.

Job well done, T. Now do it tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that.

What made this development so sweet was that both parties were placing themselves in danger due to their love for Caroline. Tyler will do anything to be with her and Bill may even be on his way to redemption after those fatherly, protective warnings he gave to Tyler.

SECOND, Alaric is an idiot. Seriously, man, keep acting this way and I may need to resort to calling you "Ric" as well. You're quickly losing the honor of your awesome name.

Sure, Dr. Fell is a cutie. And her desire to save patients' lives by any means necessary is admirable - but she's also sort of playing God here. You can't save everyone. Moreover, she gives you one explanation for what she does with vampire blood and you're sold? You (literally) open up your bag of secrets and then you even tell her about the ring. The ring? My goodness, man, the ring?!? Keep that thing to yourself.

Shouldn't you maybe be wondering: why is her ex-boyfriend dead? For how long has she been using vampire blood in this fashion? What is her overall agenda? I'd have a lot of questions for the good (or bad?) doctor and none of them would include her favorite food or what time you ought to pick her up for dinner.

THIRD, we come to Bonnie and her mother. There was just a whole lot going on here, and a great deal of it involved characters we just met. Or characters in whom we aren't heavily invested.

Look, Bonnie is perfectly nice, but Elena said it herself on their road trip: she never talks about her mom. I'm sure her absence has had a profound affect on Bonnie, but
I didn't care much about the reunion. The emotion there didn't feel earned. And it was awfully convenient that Abby just happened to take in her ex's son many years ago... so Klaus' hybrid (who also played an oddly prominent role this week) could compel him and Abby could convince Bonnie to spill the location of the coffins and Klaus could show up there and Damon (off screen) could move the locked box and...

... it was a whirlwind of one event after another, many of which relied on a few more plot contrivances than we typically see on VD (the existence of Jaime, Elena leaving her mother's sheet on the kitchen table, Bonnie just texting Damon freely while the random hybrid stood nearby, etc.).

I will say, however, that Abby's basis for leaving was interesting. She wanted to live as a woman, not a witch. I've written many times how the show only utilizes Bonnie as a witch. And she isn't exactly the most upbeat character, is she? There may be something to be said for losing one's powers. But not for abandoning one's child, of course.

Of course, in the end, this culminated in the return we've all been clamoring for: Elijah! I think most of us saw it coming at some point, but that didn't make it any less fantastic when he concluded the episode with a heart in his hands and the question: What did I miss?

A whole lot, my good man. Now let's wake Rebekah up and have the Original reunion we all wanna see.

Smaller bites:

  • Terrific use of silence in the scene where Elena told Stefan about the kiss. I legitimately had no idea how Stefan would respond and the writers made the perfect choice in leaving him speechless. Really, what expresses hurt more than utter quiet? Very well played by both Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev.
  • Jenna's gone. You're allowed to move on. Hmmm... anything else think Elena was talking to herself as much as Alaric here?
  • Man, what must the other physicians at the hospital think of Meredith? That she's the greatest doctor since Hippocrates?
  • No new episode next week. But that that just means more time to spend in our Vampire Diaries forum talking about this one!
  • He's a look at what you can expect on the February 2 installment.

What did everyone else think? Is Elena actually too good for both brothers? Can we trust Bonnie's mom? Dr. Fell? And, of course, WHAT IS IN THE CASKET?


Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (396 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


The good thing, Elijah is back..But i agree with you Matt..The season has no direction where they want to go, except of playing with hopes of the audience in what direction ever..Let`s start with the obvious, Damon and Elena. I`m not a shipper, but the building of them was awesome and they gave the audience what they want since season 1. And now, puff, everything back to Stefan? Well, i haven`t a problem with these direction but that makes all episode before like, well, nothing..And Stefan and Elena, why tearing them apart, letting him hurt her so deeply, when they make a reset in a minute..Than poor Katherine which only use is to blow in sometimes..Not to use such a great character is really stupid..Next part.. Tyler and Caroline, together for, let me guess, 5minutes and than a move to Klaus/Caroline?..Really?..And Bonnie, is she capable of anything else than to be boring, and spreaking her spells..


But this sounds worser than it is. It`s just that i don`t want to destroy them my fav tv show.My hope for the next episode:
- more brotherly bonding with Stefan and Damon.(They are my facorite
couple) and Klaus and Elijah
- more flashbacks, i`m a totally sucker for the awesome tvd-flashbacks
- more strong and consistent storytelling like in season 1+2
- Stop teasing Damon and Elena, when this will never happen, just to keep the most part of the audience wanting it..these playing with 75% of the fans of the show sucks..
- Damon getting out of these Stefan and Elena stuff. I want somebody who cares about him. He`s great, adorable, funny and sweet. No more building of something that never happens. Maybe let him and Katherine fall in love again, leaving Mystic Falls and let them destroy or conquer the whole world.
- Rebecca taking care of Klaus, and i mean not for good.
- Tyler and Caroline back together


I was bored throughout. I didn't care about Tyler and Caroline (would have loved more of Klaus and Caroline picking up from last week). Bonnie deseved screentime but my attention was elsewhere. Ric is a complete idiot.Fell is psycho. I loved Stefan's reaction but for once I didn't care about the Stefan/Damon/Elena triangle. And most likely the coffin holds the key to killing Klaus.In fact I was mostly bored.but all of that changed the minute Damon got that gorgeous smirk on his face, dangled that lovely dagger and I jumped out of my seat because I just knew....ELIJAH!!!!when I seen my favorite Original BAMF grinning away with a bloodied hand and that ridiculous new hairdo I may have actually squealed. Nothing else in this episode mattered because ELIJAH IS BACK!!!


I think that the protected casket includes Klaus' mother. She was a witch before she turned vampire, or just stayed a witch. A Original Witch, maybe that's why the casket was protected.


@lauren:yes u'r right,the way she said it made it seems like she took the blame upon herself since she knew she participated in the kiss but to me it sounds like she was actually talking about the finale kiss coz she said "i kissed damon" not "damon and i kissed" coz that was the time she actually kissed damon by herself and to me i think she felt like she betrayed him and she wants him to know exactly what is going on between her and damon so that he wouldn't heard about it some where else,but what matters now is that she told him about the kiss which ever one she meant.


Forget Stefan & Damon she should go be with Klaus since they cant manage kill his ass, HELLO he's the hybrid, make friends with the toughest kid on the playground that's what I would do...cuz its pretty early in the show to have a villian like this so something worse than Klaus is bound to make an I say make more hybrids while Elena is still human...


This episode was awesome


I dont thing bonnies story line with her mother was that boring. It was as good as it could get. Elijah is back- Hellz yea!!!


You both could be right. She could have been talking about the kiss when she thought Damon was dying but I doubt it. Especially because the porch kiss was mentioned earlier in the episode. (When Damon told Bonnie that they kissed) Plus I don't think that Elena would have felt guilty enough to want Stefan to know that she kissed Damon when she thought that he was dying. I mean he WAS dying. And it was more like a goodbye, I know you love me kind of kiss, at that time her heart CLEARLY still belonged to Stefan. But the porch kiss had her rattled enough for Bonnie to ask what was up with the two of them. So I'm 99% sure that the kiss that she was telling Stefan about was the porch kiss. And can I just say that YES Ian Somerhalder is SMOKIN hot but there was more chemistry between Stefan & Elena when she was pulling shards of wood out of his chest than there was when Elena & Damon kissed. I don't see the magic. Stefan & Elena belong together.


@Holly, @Stefelena, I think that Elena did not word it correctly because she knows that she participated in the kiss and felt something. I feel that it would have been more deceitful to blame Damon as though it didn't even happen. She was owning up for her side of that kiss. If she had not felt anything, it would not have something she would have brought up. She wanted him to know because she did feel something. Think about it, if you were a married woman and a man grabbed you and kissed you, you would say that he kissed you because you do not want to take any responsibility for it. What Elena did in this case was tell Stefan in a way that said "I was just as involved".. the technicalities are not important, it is what is she said when you read between the lines. She was confessing that she kissed Damon, not that Damon kissed her or felt something for her. IT was about Elena's feelings and letting Stefan know.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 12 Quotes

Damon: What's her damage?
Alarc: No damage.
Damon: Come on, Ric. It's a fact of life. A girl that smart, that hot? Damaged.

Bonnie: What's going on with you two?
Damon: We kissed. Now it's weird.